Game Ninety-Four – Cubs 4 Astros 1
Something happened on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley that had not occurred all season, the Cubs hit back-to-back home runs in the 3rd inning to power them past the Astros and give Carlos Zambrano his seventh straight victory, a new career high. Zambrano threw another incredible game and had a perfecto going until he walked Aubrey Huff in the 5th. Zambrano allowed only 1 run on 2 hits in 8 innings of work, walked 4 and struck out 10.
The Cubs scored in the 1st inning, got out to the lead and never looked back. Michael Barrett had another huge day with a home run, his 10th, and 2 RBI’s. The Cubs did just enough to win including Matt Murton recording an RBI on a walk with the bases loaded. It was a solid game behind their best pitcher….they won a series at Wrigley for the first time since May 29th – 31st against the Reds and finished the homestand at .500 (3-3). The Cubs waited 94 games to hit back-to-back home runs but on Thursday afternoon Carlos Zambrano was just plain spectacular. Of the 10 batters that Zambrano struck out, 3 ended the inning with runners in scoring position. He kept the Astros off balance all day and was just on his game.
While the offense recorded only 6 hits, they did walk 4 times. Juan Pierre stole two bases on Thursday in the 5th that led to the fourth run of the day. The Cubs scored in the 1st inning after a 1 out double by Neifi Perez, Barrett hit a bloop single to center to score Neifi, the Cubs loaded the bases in the 1st but were unable to add to their lead. They added two more runs in 3rd on Barrett’s 10th and Aramis Ramirez’s 17th home runs of the season. Andy Pettitte had trouble throwing strikes and walked 4 to go along with 6 strikeouts. The Cubs scored all 4 runs off of Pettitte on 6 hits in 5 innings of work.
Ryan Dempster pitched the 9th to record his 16th save on the season, a poor defensive play and a walk made it all too exciting but Dempster recorded the 27th out and that is all that matters. This was the Cubs first win on a Thursday this season (1-8).
The Cubs are 6-4 in their last 10 games and will start a 6-game road trip on Friday in Washington. Mark Prior is expected to take the hill.